|August 26, 2014||Posted by Pamela Thompson under Working Mom Wisdom|
Nobody told me:
- that I would be in more pain after the baby was born than I would be during labor.
- that feeding a newborn would be a full-time job.
- that I would have conversations about poop and never blush.
- that I could survive on two hours of interrupted sleep.
- that I would be more excited about buying my children new clothes than I am about my own.
- that I would hide story books because they made me cry (I’m looking at you, Love You Forever)
- that I would clean a child’s bedroom with a broom and black garbage bag.
- that I would worry so much about my kids struggling with the same issues I struggled with as a kid.
- that I would be so excited over my child reading his first word, or writing his first numbers.
- that I would stop caring if their clothing matched.
- how much laundry multiplies.
- just how much more milk there is in a gallon if it is spilled on the floor.
- that I might not cry when they go off to kindergarten, but I probably will when they leave for college.
- that I could enjoy being a working mom just as much or more than I enjoyed being a stay at home mom.
- that I would love these kids so much.
I’m glad that nobody told me. I wouldn’t have believed you anyway if you had. And really, half the joy has been in the discovery.
Chime in! What are some truths of motherhood that nobody told you?
|August 17, 2014||Posted by Pamela Thompson under Working Mom Wisdom|
I’ve spent the better part of the last 15 years on parenting message boards, email groups and Facebook groups. When I started off on this mom gig, I was determined to be a pro.
Whether or not I’ve succeeded at professional motherhood is best left un-judged, but suffice it to say, I’ve talked and typed this mothering thing to death.
My mothering questions these days are much different than they used to be. I no longer worry about helping my kids to sleep through the night, or worry about damaging them if they sleep in my bed (answer: it did not damage them). Now my questions surround how best to support a college freshman, how to juggle the schedule for the kid in three choirs, or whether it is my job or Dad’s to sew on Boy Scout patches (answer: it is Dad’s job!).
But, as I continue to browse mothering pages in order to lend a supportive ear, I see the same things happening over and over again.
In the past week alone, I’ve seen questions on the *perfect* way to have a gender reveal party, how to freeze a year’s worth of baby food, moms needing advice on how to make the first day of school super special, and then a boatload of moms showing varying signs of burnout.
To temper all of that, I found this article on my newsfeed the other day. And I’ve found, that the longer I’ve been a mom, the more I DO feed into some of these global trends–trends that, in my opinion, help to make motherhood a lot easier . . . . And just as effective. We live in North Dakota, not unlike Norway in climate, and yes, my kids play outside, in the cold, nearly every day. And, when the twins were little, they napped outside, in their stroller, while I took a walk to clear my head. For the record, they survived, and so did I! Like Spanish families, my kids stay up late. It may not be ideal, but we grab family time when we can . . . which means bedtime is more elastic than the grandparents would prefer. And I feed my kids like the French do, with a chorus of “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”
I feel rather bossy and curmudgeonly on these mothering pages lately, and I was wondering if I was alone in thinking that perhaps, just perhaps, we were all just making this way harder on ourselves than we have to! So, of course, I took it to my trusted Facebook friends on the Dakotapam.com page. (and I have the best group on ladies who hang out there, really, I do!) And I found that I’m not alone. . . other people think we are doing this the hard way.
So, without further ado, here are 7 ways we make this mom gig harder than we have to:
- Essie said,We don’t ask for help! We think we can do everything better by ourselves. If we get help, we have to be thankful for it, and not worry if it’s not done “right.” Boy did she hit the nail on the head. I can be a bit of a control freak. . . . A little more than “a bit”. So I have these visions of how things “should” be. But then I get bogged down. I can’t work 40 hours a week, taxi kids around town, have delicious and nutritious meals on the table, and have a spotless home . . . There are simply not enough hours in the day. So I learned to delegate. And let go. . . because my husband does not cook the same as me, and the kids don’t quite wipe the counter well after dinner. The folded towels don’t stack neatly and they used too much cleaner on the mirrors. But, I say to myself
- Traci said, Also, [we] stress about the things that don’t matter as much rather than enjoying the things that do! Moms, this is HUGE! It is what my grandma called “majoring in the minors.” We get hung up on all of the mommy wars hot topics (and you know what they are), leaving us no energy to simply relish our children’s childhoods!
- Beth said, Worry and failure to delegate. Amen, sister. How many times have you worried yourself literally sick? The what-ifs can consume you. What if he never sleeps, what if she never potty trains, what if she catches chicken pox, what if she doesn’t? How will he do in school, will she make good friends? What if the other moms don’t like me or approve of my decisions? This worry is consuming, moms. And it is eating us alive. This worry is robbing us of our joy. I remember telling my grandma of my worries when our oldest was tiny. She looked me right in the eye and said, “Worry is a sin”. I gasped. Here I was, trying so very hard to do everything RIGHT, and instead, I was doing just the opposite.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
(Matthew 6:25-34 ESV)
- Another Beth said, Volunteering for too much outside the home.Moms, let me teach you a handy phrase:”That is not going to work for us right now.” It is a long way of saying “no”, but it acknowledges that your reasons for saying “no” is for the good of your family. In other words, you are not just being lazy. At the advice of a friend, after starting my new job, I read Lean In. In Sandberg’s plea to end the mommy wars, she made a very eye-opening point: we need working moms and stay at home moms. Stay at home moms power the PTA and help coach itty bitty soccer. Mom’s, do what you can, and do what you like. Other moms will pick up the slack if you give them the chance!
- Kirsten said, I see a lot of moms that take things personally. Stop letting your feelings get hurt by your kids. YOU are the parent, not them! Agreed. Sometimes we allow our offspring to become tiny tyrants and control everything–including our feelings. Moms, high school is over. We don’t have to worry whether or not the people that we live with and feed and care for every day LIKE us. Actually, if we are doing our job right, sometimes they won’t.
- And then Brianna made the comment that I thought would be the first one mentioned,
Brianna Pinterest makes me feel like I’m not a good enough mom. Soo to answer your question, looking at Pinterest and comparing myself to those moms. I’m looking at you “magical first day of school” moms. Pinterest can be a lot of fun. I use it as a search engine for figuring out what the heck I can throw together for dinner in fifteen minutes using a can of corn, a block of cheese, an egg and a thimble full of milk (oops, forgot to grocery shop–again). Essie uses it to dream of her closet being magically filled. . Pinterest can be a lot of fun. But it can be a joy killer. This past week my Facebook friends were all passing around the blog post, Give me Gratitude or Give me Debt. It matters not that the ugly kitchen in question is still far nicer than mine, the point remains that our disease of comparing and coveting and holding ourselves up to some unattainable ideal has GOT TO STOP!
- Debbie said, Guilt. There is so much guilt, for not spending time with the kids, the house isn’t clean enough, our work is never finished, every little thing that we THINK we NEED to do to make the family happy and better. the key words here are “think we need”. The fact is, our families need US. They need a mom, a soft place to land. Our kids need security and unconditional love. They do not need a designer nursery, a colorcoordinated closet, or even cute little Bento box lunches. They need YOU!Moms, you can do this! Don’t make it harder than you have to!
|August 11, 2014||Posted by Pamela Thompson under Working Mom Wisdom|
My husband has a fun (sadistic) game in which he tries to make me cry about the children growing up. I tear up easily, so it is not a difficult game for him.
For the most part, I am so happy to see my kids grow up. I’m a more patient mom to school aged kids than toddlers, and I really enjoy my teens. As they grow, I can see the fruit of my labors take shape. I enjoy watching their personalities develop.
And yet, I still miss the chubby faced, grubby hugs and kisses of toddlerhood.
Those endless nights in the rocking chair are gone.
It is pretty rare for anyone to cry as I walk out the door, yet most are still really happy to see me return.
I can usually go grocery shopping alone, though it would be nice to have company.
I don’t change any diapers, and I no longer feel the need to get involved in breastfeeding debates.
Now I worry about how often to send college care packages, and what to pack in them.
I worry about how to make the most of the time my other five have at home with us.
I wonder about how many grandchildren we will be blessed with.
I pray that my sons choose good wives (and that they like me!).
I worry that I will be burnt out when the youngest get to their teen years.
I giggle a little at the things that seemed so important in my early years of parenting. . . breast vs. bottle, sahm vs. daycare, cloth vs. disposable, how many playdates to plan. . . . And now all of that seems so trivial–it mattered, and still matters, but I question whether it deserved so much of my attention?
So, my dear husband linked this song to me on my Facebook AND my Twitter feed this morning (I’m sure he heard it on his iTunes radio as he was making breakfast). I’m glad he thought of me, but he knew it would make me cry. . . . It worked.
|August 7, 2014||Posted by Pamela Thompson under Working Mom Wisdom|
This is a picture from what seems a lifetime ago. A quick snapshot of four women outside of our cabin at a Pastor’s wives retreat. We were all supporting our husbands in the same geographical area. We spent the weekend laughing, crying, praying for each other.
Within the next few years, we were all separated from each other as husbands took calls to other congregations in other states.
Yesterday, fellow PW (pastor’s wife) Heidi posted this insightful post on the families we leave behind. It is true. Ministry families often suffer from being so far from our extended families. We miss out on birthday parties, sometimes weddings, group vacations and the like. It is part of the package. And we are not alone, there are many non-ministry families who are separated by distance as well.
But another gaping hole of loss is our friends. For some PWs, making friends is difficult. Many end up in small, close knit communities, many have issues with not knowing who they can trust. I was blessed to have this group of women to lean on in the years following my husband’s graduation from seminary. I cried great big, sobbing, ugly cry tears when I left them. Church conferences can feel like a reunion.
I’m blessed. I make friends fairly easily. . .my outgoing kids sure have helped! But there is something about a friendship with a woman who is walking a similar walk with you. One who shares similar struggles and frustrations. One who understands exactly why we never get “fun weekend getaways”. One who understands exactly why our husbands hurt when their people are hurting. One who knows the joy and privilege of serving alongside a true servant of God.
There is something about those very friendships that make them maybe a wee bit more special. There is something about them that compells us to give just a little bit more of ourselves. We are in a kind of sorority that we may never have chosen to be a part of, but now can no longer imagine any other kind of life.
When you have these kinds of friendships, treasure them. Nurture them. Pray for them.
|August 6, 2014||Posted by Pamela Thompson under Working Mom Wisdom|
I pray a lot.
That is not boasting. It is a simple fact.
I was raised in the church. As I learned to speak, I learned to pray.
My first prayers were simple, a common table prayer, “now I lay me down to sleep” at bedtime.
As I grew, I learned far more powerful prayers. I learned to pray as Jesus taught his very own disciples to pray, with the “Our Father”, and when I reached confirmation age, I learned the very power of that seemingly simple prayer.
I try to spend a little focused time each morning in prayer and God’s Word.
I pray with and for my children.
I pray for my co-workers.
I pray for my blog readers.
I see my Facebook newsfeed as a scrolling prayer list.
I’ve seen answers to God’s prayers (and he always answers). God has sustained me through tough pregnancies. God continues to sustain His church. God richly provides for our daily needs.
I’ve also seen evidence of God answering prayers in ways that I did not desire. I’ve had beloved family members pass away too soon. I’ve not been offered jobs that I have applied for. I still don’t have unlimited money and resources. My children are still disobedient.
So, because God does not act like a genie in a bottle granting all of my wishes, does this mean that my prayers are futile?
Prayer is how we talk to God. And through our prayers, and conversations with God, sometimes the biggest change is in US.
In our society, there is a value in a “take charge” attitude. If you want something, you need to work hard to achieve it. We can’t just sit back and whine about what we don’t have.
Prayer takes the focus off of us.
Prayer acknowledges that all that we have, all that we are, and our entire future, is in God’s hands. When we acknowledge that God is truly in control, then we can trust Him to guide our ways. We learn that we can turn our worries and cares over to him. We can release them into His most capable arms. We can pray for healing and be confident that we will be granted healing, either in this world, or the next. We can pray for success, and acknowledge that success in God’s eyes may look different than what we envision. We can be bold, and ask for more than we deserve, knowing that we have already received so much more than we deserved when Jesus gave up his life for us. We are already blessed beyond comprehension . . . we have received the free gift of eternal life!
I have set aside a day to pray for you, my readers. During my work day I check in on my Facebook Page and say short prayers for each of you. I petition God for each of you. And I ask that you do the same for me.
In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he closes with these final instructions, and these words stand true today as well:
We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
Brothers, pray for us.
Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.
I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 ESV)
If you are looking for more information on prayer, and how to pray, A Simple Way to Pray, is a valuable resource written by Martin Luther for his friend and Barber. It has been recently translated from the German by Matthew Harrison and is a rich resource in a small (and very affordable) book.
With that, my friends, how can I pray for you today?